A legal conference with a Conga line? And 3 reasons why you should join us. By Sarah Follent

A legal conference with a Conga line? And 3 reasons why you should join us.

Author Sarah Follent

I suspect you might be asking, what do you mean that there is a legal conference with a Conga line? Well, this is a thing and it is happening again this year. The annual Club Retreat is back for 2019 and let me assure you it will be bigger, brighter and better than ever! 

Over the past 2 years I have had the pleasure of assisting my boss and friend Clarissa Rayward in designing and co-ordinating a legal conference like no other in what we like to call The Club Retreat! This is no usual legal conference- gone are the heavy papers, black and white powerpoints and branded water bottles! Instead you can be assured of relevant topics on all aspects of running a modern legal practice from experts in and outside the profession. Think ‘TEDX’ for lawyers- our presenters are hand-picked to both inspire and educate through speech. 

Here are my 3 reasons why you should join us and what I have observed and learnt from running this event alongside Clarissa, plus the amazing lawyers around the country who have joined us.

1. The community and friendships you will make.

For 2 days you will be surrounded and supported by a group of wonderful, like-minded people in a safe collective, exploring ideas of change and innovation in your career. (Fear not, this will actually go beyond the Retreat!)

The people who attend our event are at the heart of why we have the community in ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life.’ Lawyer or not you are welcome to join us for 2 days of colour, unique education and motivation where you will be inspired to live your best life in and outside of the law. 

2. The diverse array of knowledge and experience shared by presenters will have you looking at things differently, thinking 'out' outside the box and implementing your ideas faster.

It is common for us to think that architects and designers are paid to be creative thinkers, but CEOs, lawyers and business owners are not. Well here is a *truth bomb* for you… This is not the case at all. 

As a designer and creative thinker I believe that it is a common mis-conception that we are born with ‘creative genes.’ Now I know, you are probably like ‘easy for you to say you are a creative!’ But what I have observed from working alongside lawyers across the county in The Club is that there are so many cool, creative and courageous legal professionals out there challenging the norm of what a lawyer is and what a lawyer does. You guys are great at applying ‘practicality’ to some of life’s most challenging times and from what I have seen once a good dose of ‘creative confidence’ is applied, something really wonderful happens to both the legal process and outcome. 

The Club Retreat allows you to see that creative potential and innovation lies everywhere in the things we get to do each day.  

3. You will have fun, join that Conga line and leave the 2 days feeling inspired to innovate.

I believe that The Club Retreat is a great way to show you how to take the ‘seriousness’ out of the mundane day-to-day that comes with life in the law and apply fun, colour and energy whilst keeping the importance of what lawyers do intact.

You will be given a safe and inclusive space to start penning your ideas and dreams to bring them to life. I give you my word that Clarissa and the presenters will show you how to effortlessly dance between your creative potential and the pragmatism of the business world and life as a lawyer. (At this point you will be jumping off your chair and joining the visionary that is Ann-Maree David in that Conga line we promised!) 

There will be a lot of confronting and thought provoking moments over the 2 days but you will leave feeling a sense of support, inspiration and motivation to keep doing the things you love both in and outside of the law. 

On Sunday 30 non-member ‘early, early bird’ Retreat tickets hit the Happy Lawyer Shop Floor and now is your chance to join us!

These tickets are now available but only for this week!

You can learn more about The Club Retreat here or purchase your *extra special* tickets available at a super special price here

So join us in Kingscliff on the 8th and 9th of November for 2 days of business, law and life learning designed to help you be the best lawyer you can be. 

This is a image of Sarah Follent

Sarah Follent

Design & Creative Director | Co-Creator | Legal Designer | Blogger | Co-ordinator 

Hello! I am Sarah a fun, vibrant and colourful woman. I have an effervescent love of life, colour and energy which is reflected in all I do. 

I am a creative, designer, entrepreneur and co-creator. It is actually really hard for me to put into words what I do each day (many will agree) but I will give it a crack.

I currently work in a number of different capacities, relying on my skills in creativity and innovation as well as my experience in coordination and business to be as versatile and adaptable as possible.

Most days you will find me designing and co-creating alongside my friend (and boss) Clarissa Rayward on all things Happy Lawyer Happy LifeThe Happy Family LawyerBrisbane Family Law Centre & our soon to launch project Amicably.

Let’s be friends! I would love to connect with you on Linkedin and Instagram!


Surviving your first year as a lawyer! By Freya Gardon

This is an image of Happy Lawyers surviving their first year as lawyers.

Surviving your first year as a lawyer! 

Author Freya Gardon

I still remember my first day in a law firm.  I ended up being sent to Court an hour in!  I had never been to a Court before and can honestly say I had almost no idea what to do!! But I survived and have survived many an awkward moment thereafter too.  In this week’s blog, Solicitor Freya Gardon shares her learnings on surviving that first year in ‘law land’ and there are some really great tips here for all of us- first year or not!


You have done it! You finally got admitted. After four plus years of University, answering mock exam questions to advise Bill on whether he can sue Woolworths for slipping on an avocado, developing a causal coffee addiction, and honing your skill to make a meal out of anything, it is time to be a proper lawyer!

The end of University is a triumphant and exciting time. Finishing a law degree is no mean feat, and by the end I think most of us feel ready to get stuck into real world practice. But with leaping into your first year as a lawyer comes real responsibility, work which can seem daunting, and even at times overwhelming. It is also a wonderful opportunity and time to learn, and embrace feeling comfortable with not knowing the answer to everything!

I am by no means an expert at navigating this time but have been surrounded by wonderful people who passed on their wisdom to me in my time of need! So, my top five tips for surviving your first year as a lawyer:

1. You won't always know the answer, and that is ok!

One of the hardest parts about your time after admission is learning to say you don’t know the answer, or what to do, and asking for help. By the end of University, we feel like we are nailing those advices and mock interviews (sort of!). Our confidence is up, and we are ready to unleash our new-found skills on real clients! Something that can be a challenge is making the transition from University into a real-world space, where we don’t always know the answer, and we do not feel as confident in our choices (because they will affect someone’s life!). As a part of this transition, it is important to know when to ask for help, and how to go about it. Push the work as far as you can, and then reach out when you need to. 

2. Mistakes are ok.

You will probably make one, or two, as we all do! And the good news is, usually they can be fixed. The important thing is to not let them get the better of you, and to use them as an opportunity to learn. It can be easy to dwell on what we have done wrong, rather than what we are doing right. My rule (which I am not always wonderful at following!) – allow yourself the day to feel upset, embarrassed, annoyed, whatever it is. Then, ask for feedback from a mentor or your boss, understand what went wrong, and take the time to plan what you will do differently next time. Doing this will mean you hopefully move onward and upward quicker than what you otherwise might have.

3. Have a go.

You might surprise yourself! No one learnt by being perfect on a first attempt, and part of your first year as a lawyer is to have a go! One of the great things is usually someone will be checking in what you are doing before it matters – take advantage of that by giving it a go and learning from what changes. Think about how you can take a task as far as possible before you get your work checked. Have you drafted that document to its fullest extent, and checked your own work twice? Checking your own work at least twice before someone else reads it is my golden rule – it will force you to slow down, and make sure its accurate.

4. Find a mentor.

I promise she is not making me write this but having Clarissa as a mentor was the best thing to happen to me as a part of becoming a lawyer. I have been lucky enough to never feel alone, or so stuck on a decision because I have always had Clarissa to reach out to. Not only can she answer my legal questions, she has also given me the most wonderful career advice and helped me make decisions that I would have otherwise found overwhelming. 

5. It's a marathon, not a one-year sprint.

When you feel like you don’t know anything, and you are constantly learning, a year is a long time! Make sure you slow down and appreciate that your learning journey is long one. You will not know the answers overnight, and more than likely you will feel frustrated at times by how long it is taking you to understand what you need to. If you rush through this process, you more than likely won’t enjoy your time as a baby lawyer! Instead, slow down, enjoy the process, and make sure work does not consume your life! 

There you have it! They seem simple and pretty obvious, but when you are working away, learning, and at times feeling stressed, they can be easy to forget! 

This is a photo of Happy Lawyer Freya Gardon

Freya Gardon

Collaborative Family Lawyer & Psychology Honours Student

Hi! I am Freya a Collaborative Family Lawyer who has worked as an essential member of the Brisbane Family Law Centre team for nearly a decade. Now four years post admission, I work closely with our Director Clarissa Rayward in upholding and developing our firm’s fresh and sincere approach to family law. 

I have been lucky enough to work with Clarissa since 2010, prior to even starting my law land journey. In that time, I have enjoyed working not only as a lawyer, but as a content writer, automation bot builder, and now, a legal product developer. 

Looking to expand my work in law, I am currently in my final year of Psychology at the University of Wollongong, and can’t wait to see how I can use these skills to continue assist client’s in a creative way. I love working with a team that do things differently, and Brisbane Family Law Centre has always done just that.


The Real ‘How to Study in the Library’ Guide by Samara Wendt

This is a colourful image of a happy lawyer poster.

 The Real ‘How to Study in the Library’ Guide!

Author Samara Wendt


I have to say, I’m always impressed when I read these golden tips from our resident Student Bloggers! While it’s been a few years (not that many!) since I had to buckle down in the University Library or host an exam study session, I certainly wished I’d known these things back then! Even still, I think we can put a few of these tips into practice no matter what we are working towards or our stage of career. 

Student Blogger, Samara Wendt is spot on when she says we are all running our own race and you have to run it in your own way! I’m a big advocate for finding your bliss in Law Land and if that means your study or learning habits break the mould, then you do you friends!  



So, to firstly address the elephant in the room, this blog will be referring to productive study. This means working through podcasts, readings, tutorial preparation and sipping on hot bean juice (i.e. over priced coffee). 

*Takes sip of coffee sitting on table beside laptop*

In this judgement free zone on the Happy Lawyer Happy Life Student Edition Blog, let us all admit to our procrastinating ways. At times it seems we will never break them. And despite procrastination jokes and memes actually being the most relatable posts on social media, deep down we all wish we could just get case readings done! Including me. So, as I enter another year, I have collated two years of field study to present to you all on how to study in the library. 

Step 1: Just don't study in the library.

If studying in the library does not work for you – just do not do it! 

I am referring to externals, students who travel hours to get to campus/class (including me) and those who just do not like libraries. This idea that walking through a library door will in turn sprinkle you with productivity dust is not true. It might take us until the end of semester to acknowledge it, but we all know it. And that is the hard-hitting news!

If you are like me, and 

  • a) Could not imagine anywhere better to get productive than in the law library with a huge monitor screen in front of you!
  • b) Would love nothing more than to stroll over to the library for a late afternoon study session, or…
  • c) To actually access the 24 hour labs after business hours! 

the jealousy when you see friends post on their Instagram stories doing any of those things is just crazy. Typical law student jealousy. But, if you are also like me and logistically can not study in the library, do not get caught up on it.  

For whatever reason is stopping you from a library study session, you are still getting study done, right? So, before we continue let us first remove the idea that the library will magically make us productive.

Step 2: Go to the library at your most productive time of the day.

Although I cannot be at the library as often as I would love, I still try to include a library session on the days I am on campus. 

For me, my most productive time is in the morning. I am talking from 7am (library opening time!) to mid-morning. Some uni friends have told me they would not even schedule classes before 11am let alone be at the library. Others can be studying from 5am!

If you are like some of my friends and do not function until midday, then that’s when you should get productive! That is the beauty of productivity; despite being at different times for everyone, the concept is the same and you can achieve the same at 3pm as what I might at 8am.

Finding a time for productivity might be a little harder for those who have just joined the study train but fear not! Play with your study routine. Take note of the times of day you feel the most clarity. Find the times of the day that you do not have competing priorities. You will have your answer. 

Also note that what might work for you now, may not work in the future. Just like what has previously worked for you, may not continue to work for you now (parents I am talking to you!). Go with the flow and do not get caught up on it. 

Step 3: Consider Your Options

Remember in primary school when we had to write about our weekend and used the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW? It was not implemented just so your grade 3 teacher could assess your literacy skills, it was implemented so you could prepare for a library study session. Take the time while you are packing your bag at home to plan your library study session.

Let’s work through this together:

WHO? Who will be at the study session?
This is useful if this is a group assignment meeting. Do you need to check in that everyone has the same details about where you are meeting and what time? Or do you have a study buddy you are meeting?

WHAT? What will you be studying?
This is sooooo useful in being productive. You will make sure to not only pack what you need for the class/classes, but you will also have a rough outline of what you need to achieve. Perhaps, tutorial prep, readings and a lecture recording. Never underestimate a plan.

WHEN? When will you go to the library?
Kind of self-explanatory but no doubt essential.

WHERE? In the library? Where in the library?
A part of being productive in the library is finding where you are productive. Me? I cannot work around noise, so I march (quietly) up the stairs to the silent level. Ideally, I use a uni computer on this level for a larger monitor screen. Sometimes I like to go to the extreme and book a silent study room on the silent level! The ultimate concentration cubicles! You could be totally different. Find what works and do it!

WHY? Do you have any deadlines that urgently need you to get productive?
Or maybe, you are the most productive in the library and just need your weekly library study session.

Just like grade 3 writing, this step is optional. It works for me in the sense of planning how I will work around my classes and life to get this library study session in. Typically, this step involves the TransLink website and some preparatory study of train running times.

This entire plan can just happen quickly in your head. I find it so useful in being prepared for a productive library study session.


Always remember you are running your own race and studying towards your own career. Find what works for you! 

I truly hope the many unproductive study sessions I have had to come to these conclusions will help you in acing your library study sessions. If you have your own tips, share them on my Instagram page, or connect with me on LinkedIn. Happy studying!

Samara Wendt

Blogger and Happy Law Student 

Hi! My name is Samara and I am an over opinionated, awkward and Imposter Syndrome suffering Law and Psychology student at the Queensland University of Technology. I never had that light-bulb moment when choosing to study law. I am not sure if many people so. But after witnessing injustice and suffering of those vulnerable in our world, I became determined to help. This is where going into law made sense for me. 

Despite believing in my purpose, I openly feel the dreaded law school Imposter Syndrome. You know, when you feel like everyone else has got ‘it’ together and you don’t even know what day it is. This year I became determined to embrace this clueless feeling by moving out of comfort zone. This included entering an Instagram competition with The Happy Family Lawyer which led me here! 

Here I am blogging about all things law school, student life and comfort zones in hopes to find fellow Imposter Syndrome suffers. 

Join the journey here on The Happy Law Student Blog and connect with me on Instagram and Linkedin


Starting an Online Business: A Quick Legal Checklist! By Grace Cue

Starting an Online Business: A Quick Legal Checklist!

Author Grace Cue

Everyday I am contacted by lawyers who are ready to make a leap; maybe they’re working on a side-hustle to compliment their legal life, maybe they’re productising their IP to add a competitive edge to their business (something I highly recommend you explore) or maybe they’re putting law land to the side to focus on a completely new and different endeavour. Whatever it may be, I think you’d be challenged to find a lawyer who hasn’t at one point thought about what more they could offer. 

I’m sure I don’t have to tell lawyers that no matter how creative and fun starting a new business can be, your legal obligations around this time are not to be taken lightly. As a family lawyer, setting up businesses is not really my thing but lucky for me (and you!) some of our legal colleagues have set up some great tools to help us along the way!

This week, Grace from Law Squared-  a firm known for its clever solutions for new businesses of all shapes and sizes- is here to take us through a few of the things we need to think about when it comes to start ups in law.


You have a great idea for a product or service, you have your website up and running, and you’re getting ready to go to market online. It’s an exciting time and the last thing you want to think about is your company’s and your website’s legal compliance. But it’s an important step to take to ensure that disputes over the use of your website and the purchasing of your products/services don’t arise, or if they do, that you have the right protections and agreements in place to protect both you and the consumer.

There are many legal considerations when it comes to creating an online business and as part of my work at Cubed by Law Squared I am able to share some of the most important steps to ensure that you begin your startup journey on the right foot. 

Use of Your Website by Customers

You might have a very clear idea of what your website and products or services will be used for but this is not always obvious to the people who visit your website. A well-drafted Website Terms of Use (WTOU) is integral as it allows you to articulate the purposes and the permitted uses of the website. It also gives you the ability to indemnify yourself in the instance that someone uses your website for an unauthorised purpose.

Engagement with Your Customers

Terms and conditions are also a useful document to put in place for your website particularly to govern any monetary or service exchanges. Website Terms and Conditions create IP rights, and impose rights and responsibilities on both the user and the owner of the domain. A Terms and Conditions document ought to contain details about how a commercial transaction unfolds. How do your customers pay for and receive your goods and services? How much do they have to pay for them? Having these details set out in black and white helps to prevent unnecessary disputes arising and allows for speedy dispute resolution.

Privacy of Your User's Information

If throughout the course of your business you are collecting, using or storing your customer’s information you need to have a privacy policy in place to govern these processes. Privacy Policies should be bespoke and tailored to your business, the way you handle and collect data and the purpose for which you collect that data. Your privacy policy needs to be compliant with Australian Privacy Laws and also may need to contemplate the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) applying to all European Union citizens. It is critical to understand that if your business collects sensitive information (as defined by the relevant laws), then your data handling and collection needs detail attention.

Intellectual Property

On a website intellectual property (IP) can encompass anything from the name of the company and its logo to the source code in the background. Protection of your IP is important to a company as it preserves your rights to those elements now and into the future and stops others from using them unnecessarily unless permission is given through an IP Assignment or Licence Agreement. 

Protection of IP often is a process of trademarking your designs, logo and name (among other elements of your website). If you are looking to commercialise or protect your IP for the benefit of your business, you can contact the team at Cubed by Law Squared for more information.

Returns and Defects for Online Product Sales

Return policies and product defects often arise in the area of consumer law when online businesses selling goods end up in trouble with consumers and in serious situations, with the ACCC. It is often tempting, or seems logical, to exclude returns or exchanges on items or goods purchased more than three months ago; however, ensuring you are compliant with consumer laws is important. Some key areas where businesses get it wrong on returns:

  1. ‘We do not provide refunds’ – this is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law and should not be written anywhere on your website;
  2. ‘No refunds on sale items’ – same as above
  3. ‘Major faults vs. minor faults’ – 
    • If MAJOR – the consumer can elect to have a replacement or a refund for the goods or services
    • If MINOR – the consumer has a right for the fault to be repaired without a refund

This is a image of Grace Cue

Grace Cue

Law Graduate & Legal Project Officer at
Law Squared

Hi! I am Grace a Law Graduate and Legal Project Officer at Law Squared. 

After first beginning my time at Law Squared as a Legal Project Officer in early 2018, I  have moved into the position of Graduate Lawyer within the Employment + Workplace Relations team. 

I am eager and excited for what the future holds, currently working behind the scenes, creating content, providing day-to-day support, and exercising my developing legal skills in the employment law arena, under the guidance of Andrew Brooks and Catherine Brooks. 

At the same time, I am currently undertaking my PLT at Leo Cussen part-time. Outside the office, I enjoy playing sport, going to escape rooms, and coaching my old high school badminton team on weekends. Otherwise, I am is often found playing guitar or playing video games with my partner Ryan.


To the Graduating Class of 2018! By Kiarah Grace Kelly

To the Graduating Class of 2018!

Author Kiarah Kelly

The last few weeks of this year have seen the usual Christmas chaos for most of us but for many of the students around us, these weeks have been filled with Graduation ceremonies- those important days when all of that hard university work is finally acknowledged and the next big step in their professional lives is about to begin.  To bring us into Christmas and celebrate all of those of you who have been throwing those graduation hats in the air, Kiarah is back with a wonderful piece that makes for perfect reading for law students, graduates and even the most seasoned of lawyers.


I dedicate this post to all the 2018 Graduates out there, I think you’re amazing. You’ve poured over hundreds of thousands of typed words, stayed up far too late to complete a task only to get to bed and not be able to fall asleep because you were worried the work you did was not enough. Maybe you woke up on too many mornings thinking that your day ahead was too difficult, too full. Maybe you juggled five classes, a part-time job, your families’ expectations, work experience, clerkship applications, maybe a few breakups, definitely some fun times and absolutely a handful of free LSA lunches in exchange for sitting through yet another PLT presentation AND you endured all of this madness all while trying to remember that the footnote needs to go AFTER the full stop (wait, was that just me?). In October of this year I was asked to deliver the Graduating Student Address to the end of year Law Ball at my university. I thought I’d reproduce my speech as a blog post here where you’ll find my anecdotes of my time at law school, a few attempts at humour and me doing by absolute best to do justice to the unbelievable hard work of my fellow 2018 Graduates. I don’t claim to have all the answers, I just simply don’t. In fact, I’m terrified of what lies ahead for me and I need your help with that; I have put together a list of lessons I’ve taken from the interwebs and from those more clever than I, a list of promises that I think we can look back to when we need them, as I fear the hardest parts of our journeys are still ahead.

1- Let's promise to make friends without fear!

There will be times in our career that we will second guess ourselves, where we will fear what we propose to do next, and that’s okay! Remember that every single thought you’ve ever had and ever will have, is founded in biology in some way. Fear is the brains tool used protect us. Fear stopped you when you were climbing trees as a child just at the moment where you were about to climb too high. Fear taps you on the shoulder each time you cross the road, just to remind you to look both ways. Fear isn’t anything to be scared of, I like to think that fear can become a sort of friend who is just trying to look out for you. I guess you also have to know when to tell your fears to step aside, that you’ve got this and that you’re gonna give whatever scary thing happens to be in front of you your best shot.

Which brings me to promise number 2- Let's promise to be kind to ourselves.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. I believe that with everyone buzzing around this crazy world at a million miles an hour, the most important relationship we will ever have is the one we have with ourselves. You’ll never speak to anyone nearly as much as you will speak to yourself, so don’t you dare spend your whole life putting yourself down. 

3- Let's not ever be boring!

Now there were plenty of quotes I found about being different when I consulted the all-knowing Google Image search, but, in keeping things simple I decided to use a quote by Sir Richard Branson; “it is only by being bold that you will ever get anywhere”. And to be honest, I’m going to listen to Sir Rich on this one (I don’t think we should doubt the guy who is responsible for sending people into space, for fun)! No but seriously, there is no greater injustice then you failing to be yourself. I believe that if you for some reason keep a part of yourself from the world, they’re not going to miss it, it’s only yourself that you are cheating, it’s a part of your own life your declining to live. So, don’t be boring!

4- Let's not forget to put out the fishing net.

We’ve all no doubt heard from those our elder that should we make it to the top of our own personal summit that you’ve got to put out the ladder so that you can help someone else get a leg up, too. That way you’ve got someone to celebrate with, yeah? This all-important lesson has been particularly focused around women supporting other women, but I think it’s one all people should try to live by. Author Kristin Ferguson says that in 2018 we’ve got to ditch the ladder and instead use a fishing net. That is, raise as many people as you can up with you on your journey to success, this way you can turn that party of two into a proper shindig and you’ll have a whole lot more people beside you, the more the merrier! I believe if you’ve done the work, no one can take that away from you, let’s ditch the competition. 

Last but not least, promise number 5- Do your best to weather the storms.

In 1999 Baz Lurman reworked into music an essay by advice columnist Mary Schmich and he called it ‘the Suncreen Song’. Schmich urges her readers to remember that most often, worrying is futile as “the real troubles in your life are apt to be things that will blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday”. This simply means the most challenging moments in your life, the moments of tragedy and actual trial, you won’t ever even contemplate, and certainly won’t get a chance to worry about in advance. So, don’t sweat the small stuff.

To all the graduates of 2018 out there, Congratulations! I don’t know about you but the day I got to wear my robes and throw that $80,000 cap in the air, was one of the proudest days of my life. It’s no easy feat but we’re also so incredibly lucky to have access to the gift of a university education. I wish you all the very best, I can not WAIT to watch each and every one of the graduates I know and to those reading this blog post flourish and do amazing things.   

PS: Believe it or not this is my last post on the Student Edition of the Happy Lawyer Happy Life blog. To follow my adventures in lawland further you’ll have to find me on the Lawyers Edition of this fine website (I know, it’s weird for me too!) 


Kiarah Grace Kelly

Kiarah Grace Kelly

Blogger and Happy Lawyer

Hi! I am Kiarah Grace Kelly, I have just finished a dual Bachelors degree in Law and Government and International Relations at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. I tested my legal toes in the water at a boutique Gold Coast law firm before starting as a Law Graduate at Brisbane Family Law Centre in November 2018. I’ve just been admitted here in Queensland which makes me a Brand New Lawyer or #babylawyer as the BFLC gang likes to say. My sole practice area is Family Law.

I’m looking forward to writing about and sharing with you all that I can at this crazy-exciting but daunting stage of my career. I think there’s a need to talk about our experiences as early career lawyers so that we can all lean on each other as much as we can.

I would love to connect with you on Linkedin and Instagram!


An Imposter’s Guide to Dealing with Bad Grades by Samara Wendt

An Imposter’s Guide to Dealing with Bad Grades! 

Author Samara Wendt

Grades- something you spend a lot of time thinking about at school and then at University but something I must say I have not had to consider for almost 20 years now!  And that I think sums up just how unimportant grades will ultimately become in your law life, however we can’t overlook the fact that achieving a certain grade will be necessary to land that degree and possibly that job!  

In this week’s Happy Lawyer Happy Life Blog ‘The Student Edition’ Samara Wendt shares her tips on managing some of the challenges we all have to face when our grades are not perhaps what we hoped.

(And just for the record- no-one ever looked at my GPA once I had my first job, and I must say I can’t remember the last time I asked a job applicant in my firm for theirs either…. ) 


The worst thing about ‘Imposter Syndrome’ is that there is no time of the year where it stops. During the academic semester, mid-semester breaks, waiting for grade release, and possibly the most crippling – grade release. During the semester the hard work you put in to try and prove to yourself that you belong is almost bearable by hoping that you might be alright in the end. But, once those grades are released and it’s not what you had hoped, the imposter thoughts are loud. Very loud. I will be the first to admit that I am no honours student. I thoroughly enjoy studying law and, frankly, I would not change it for the world. So, this is what I do and how I move forward when I don’t get the grades I had truly hoped for.

1. Chill Out!

Yes, I did just tell you to chill out. Yes, I know it’s really hard to do at a time like this but remember you have completed your assessments and there isn’t a lot you can do now. Every semester my stress release after all assessment is handed in is to cry. I just cry. It is not necessarily because I am sad, it is just built up stress being released and afterwards I feel great! If you need to do this, then do it! But, do not sweat on the issue of your grades. Do not work yourself up so much that you go through every emotion either trying to blame yourself or blame someone else for the end results. You will not win. Just chill out. 

2. Reflect on the Semester

While I did say not to work yourself up blaming anything for your bad grades, it is okay to reflect and consider events in your life that may have impacted your grades. Life does not stop just because you have a 2000 word research assignment due on Thursday, AND THEN a mid-semester multiple choice quiz 8:30am the following morning. Last year, I was in a job that was not working for me. While I wanted so badly to overcome the difficulties and do well, I needed to realise I had done all I could to make the job work and needed to just move on. This was an incredibly stressful and emotional time for me while trying to succeed in 4 university subjects with 3 group assignments. Needless to say, I did not get the high distinctions I wanted. I took time to consider the self-growth and character building I made during that time. Because there was a significant amount of both, and they are both achievements in themselves! I looked at the bigger picture as well, having character and life experience will also make me a better lawyer, not just having high distinctions. 

I am a firm believer there is also something to learn from every situation. Maybe you took on more hours in your job and it reflected in having less study time. You either learnt to make more hours in your day by sacrificing other activities, or you learnt that you need to either sacrifice some work hours or cut back on units next semester to manage the load. It is no loss either way because you learnt something. 

Also, reflect on what you have learnt in the unit; I guarantee you did learn something. Not all topics within a unit are equally assessed, so you need to acknowledge what you have learnt in the unit not just what was assessed. 

3. Consider Your Options

As far as I am aware, most universities allow grade reviews. If you truly feel that your grades could be looked over again, you can choose to do this. But, remember that in a grade review it is possible your grade could go down further. This is usually reiterated by unit coordinators in emails throughout the semester, as they continuously advise students to sit on their grades for a few days before applying for a review. Pretty much – chill out and come back to it. Allow time for your emotions to settle and your mind to level, before re-reading your assessment or viewing your exam, and the feedback provided. Try to do this as open minded and un-bias as possible. 

What if you failed the entire unit? Despite how you may be feeling, the sky will not fall down, and the sun will rise tomorrow. You do not have to believe me, but I have a feeling I am right about those things. It is not ideal and was not in your course study plan to fail a unit, but it has happened, and you cannot ignore it. Follow the steps above and take some time to process your result. Depending on your university/institution policies, your options moving forward may include re-sitting an exam, or you may need to re-sit the entire unit. Either way you are not the first person in that position and you will not be the last. Use the extra time on the unit to focus on the topics you fell down in, while also, revising and growing the knowledge you retained. Think of the character building and life experience!

End of semester grade release is a rough time for everyone not only ‘Imposter Syndrome’ sufferers. When you do not receive the grades you had hoped, take the steps above. But most importantly remember your unit grades are not a reflection of you personally and you should not let them define you personally. 

Good luck for your end of semester grade release! Connect with me on Instagram and Linkedin. I would love to hear how your academic semester and year have gone!

Samara Wendt

Blogger and Happy Law Student 

Hi! My name is Samara and I am an over opinionated, awkward and Imposter Syndrome suffering Law and Psychology student at the Queensland University of Technology. I never had that light-bulb moment when choosing to study law. I am not sure if many people so. But after witnessing injustice and suffering of those vulnerable in our world, I became determined to help. This is where going into law made sense for me. 

Despite believing in my purpose, I openly feel the dreaded law school Imposter Syndrome. You know, when you feel like everyone else has got ‘it’ together and you don’t even know what day it is. This year I became determined to embrace this clueless feeling by moving out of comfort zone. This included entering an Instagram competition with The Happy Family Lawyer which led me here! 

Here I am blogging about all things law school, student life and comfort zones in hopes to find fellow Imposter Syndrome suffers. 

Join the journey here on The Happy Law Student Blog and connect with me on Instagram and Linkedin